• Megan DiMaria

Methods for writers to get to know their characters

Writers, how do you get to know your characters? Readers can tell how well an author knows their characters, so you better polish your skills.

Having a thorough knowledge of your book’s characters is imperative in writing fiction. Your story has to remain true to the character you’ve created for their world to be believable.

Some writers fill out long questionnaires about their character's history, likes, dislikes, friends, educations, etc. Some choose a personality type and research their likes, dislikes, fears, and dreams in a book that discusses personality. There are some authors who start with a vague idea of their character and fill in the details as they write.


There are a lot of fun ways you can discover your character’s personality.

  • How about taking your character out for a field trip? When you go to the mall, figure out which store your character would head into and why.

  • Go to a restaurant and decide which items your character would order off the menu. Do any of those dishes have significance to your character’s past?

  • Put your character in an awful situation and see how she reacts.

  • Write a letter from your character to a close friend, revealing her deepest thoughts.

I mull my characters over a bit before I even start writing. Even, so I don't truly begin to feel like my characters are real until I write at least one chapter. To tell the truth, they will occasionally surprise me by revealing an interesting fact while I’m writing. But that’s okay, as long as their actions are believable and consistent with their personality.


Another couple of resources that have helped me are Ackerman and Puglisis's books The Emotional Wound Thesaurus and The Conflict Thesaurus. They give you a lot of options to flesh out your character. Those two books are part of an eight-book series of a Writers Helping Writers Series. Check it out.


For more info: Books about personality types: What Type Am I? Discover Who Your Really Are, Discovering Your Personality Type: The Essential Introduction to the Enneagram.


What are some of the most memorable characters you’ve read? Mine was Amber St. Clare of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. It was published in 1944, and I read it in 1976. Amber is memorable because of her strength and her faithfulness in love.

#craftofwriting #novelwriting

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